Tag Archives: Prop. 30

It’s Time to Take Back UC for California

With the passage of Proposition 30 last November, millions of Californians voted to make personal financial sacrifices in support of public education.  As an elected state representative and former UC faculty member, I feel a special responsibility to ensure that these hard earned funds are being utilized to increase access to UC by Californians.

To be sure, Prop. 30 funds have helped to blunt the assault on access and quality that the financial crisis brought to California’s schools, community colleges and our public Universities.  Some have even enacted additional reforms in order to protect students and taxpayers from future contingencies.

But some, like the University of California, have done just the opposite.

Billions have been squandered on risky investments and oversized executive entitlements.  And UC’s administrative staff-the highest paid public employees in California who have almost no contact with patients and students-have become the fastest growing segment of its workforce.

The UC isn’t just a university.  Through its 10 campuses, five medical centers, three national laboratories, and nineteen other facilities, it is one of the leading economic, research and health delivery institutions in America.  It serves 200,000 students and 4 million patients annually, and is responsible for 1 in 46 California jobs.  

In many ways, as the UC goes, so goes California.  And things are not going as well as they should be.

Student tuition has tripled, and out-of-state enrollment has skyrocketed.  Courses have been cut and student services slashed.  Debt has doubled.  Taxpayer-subsidized UC hospitals are shirking their responsibility to provide health care to the poor on public programs like Medi-Cal, and they have been hit with millions of dollars in government fines for patient safety violations and court-ordered whistleblower settlements.

Unfortunately, under our Constitution, UC does not have to play by the same rules as other public agencies-even other public schools in California.  

That’s why the real power to change UC lies with all of us-patients, students, faculty, alumni, donors, staff and California taxpayers.  We write the checks, fill the classrooms and hospitals, and maintain the facilities.  For generations, Californians have made the sacrifices necessary to build the UC into a crown jewel.  

If we are to preserve this legacy and strengthen it for future generations of Californians, we must take action to end the cycle of mismanagement that is putting UC students and patients at risk.  We must be vigilant and equally steadfast advocates for the reforms that are needed to get UC back on track.

In short:  we need to come together and TAKE BACK UC.

TAKE BACK UC is a grassroots coalition of opinion leaders, organizations, students, patients, workers and taxpayers from every corner of the Golden State.  Our cause is to raise awareness about problems in the UC system, and to mobilize the public in support of common sense solutions-like increased access to qualified California students with reduced student expense to earn a UC degree, access to UC hospitals and physicians, safe staffing at UC health facilities and campuses, and fair pension reforms.

Ultimately, the time for reform at UC is now.  Last month, a new President took the reins at UC.   Our coalition will show that not only is there a need for change at UC-but that there is a mandate for it.  This isn’t just about sharing our concerns today— but holding the Regents and top UC administrators accountable for results in the months and years to come.  

There are a few things you can do to help grow this watchdog movement right now.

1. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

2. Learn more and lend your name to our growing list of supporters by signing up at www.TakeBackUC.org.  

3. Sign our Change.org petition on fair pension reform for UC executives and safe staffing levels at UC hospitals – and share them with your friends!

Thank you in advance for your continued support of public education in California, and your commitment to restoring the University of California to its rightful place as the crown jewel of our Golden State.

Dr. Richard Pan

California State Assemblymember (D-9th District)

A Labor Day Reflection

By CTA President Dean E. Vogel

Labor Day is the one day of the year when we celebrate the historical achievements of the labor movement and honor those who contributed to the social and economic achievement of workers and the middle class. For me, though, this Labor Day is not only a chance to acknowledge what the labor movement has done in the past, but to reflect on what it can do in the present.

Last year at this time, teachers, firefighters, nurses and public servants came together to do something that had been unthinkable for 20 years. We persuaded voters to pass Proposition 30, a temporary tax increase to prevent drastic budget cuts to students and public schools and to keep our economy strong.

That vote was no fluke, because in the same election, voters also rejected Proposition 32, a third try at a ballot proposal that would have silenced middle-class workers and immobilized unions while strengthening the power of billionaire businessmen.

Working families may not have the billions of dollars and deep pockets of big tobacco, oil companies or Wall Street brokers, but last November, we showed that Californians want to invest in public education, their communities and their future. They want to see our economy restored so that more can work their way into the middle class, not fall out of it.

As an educator I know that reinvesting in our state means reinvesting in the education of our students. I’ve seen on a personal level what a quality public education can do. As the son of a farmhand and a waitress who moved around the state a lot, I was able to make that leap into the Middle Class because I had access to a quality education. I’ve seen that happen to the students whom I’ve taught as well.

This state’s prosperity goes hand-in-hand with the guarantee of free quality education for every student, and in 2013 that includes the children of immigrants.  In fact, it has always included children of immigrants. California, after all, is a state built by immigrants.  Providing all students equal access to quality public schools and colleges is why the California Teachers Association supports a pathway to citizenship for children of immigrants – the “Dreamers.” It would be disingenuous not to.

CTA’s commitment to the principle of educating all children goes back to our founding 150 years ago by John Swett, California’s fourth superintendent of public instruction. When leaving office in 1867, Swett said, “If one state in the union needs a system of free schools more than any other, that state is California. Her population is drawn from all nations… Nothing can Americanize these chaotic elements and breathe into them the spirit of our institutions but the public schools.” How prophetic was that?

One can look at Proposition 30 solely as a temporary tax increase, but I see it as so much more.  The passage of Prop. 30 opens the door, at least a little, to the possibility of restoring California’s  great middle class and expanding it to a new generation, of renewing our commitment to tax fairness and of taking a step toward achieving economic justice for all.

Dean Vogel is president of the 325,000-member California Teachers Association.